GNSS-Based Auroral Space Weather Products

S. Skone, E. Spanswick, S. Mushini, and Maryam Najmafshar

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: Previous studies have demonstrated that the ionospheric effects of auroral precipitation and associated electric currents affect accuracy of practical systems and services: e.g. Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), communication systems, and power systems. Such space weather hazards are becoming more important for Canadians due to increasing civilian and military activity in the Arctic, and increasing reliance on GNSS in the decade ahead. Ionospheric scintillation associated with the diffuse and discrete aurora can be particularly problematic for safety-critical GNSS operations. Aurora occur in different morphologies, or types, including the most commonly recognized discrete arcs and patchy pulsating aurora. The University of Calgary operates a national array of ground-based observing sites – including green- and red-line full resolution imagers, riometers and GNSS receivers – to image the aurora simultaneously across a wide sector of the auroral oval, and to study physical processes of plasma transport mechanisms and magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling. This observing capability provides the most comprehensive and continuous spatial coverage of the auroral oval globally In this paper we investigate using such observations to classify different types of aurora and to infer space weather conditions with potential impact on national GNSS-dependent infrastructure and services. Information is derived for location and nature of the aurora, regions where the electron density varies due to precipitation, and the regions where scintillations are likely to occur. This could inform space weather products for users and providers of national services such as marine and aviation navigation. It is observed that auroral arcs impact GNSS signals more than patchy pulsating aurora; the nature of signal phase and amplitude scintillations differ significantly for these types of events. These observed phenomena are translated into impact on GNSS applications via scintillation models driven by the real-world parameters.
Published in: Proceedings of the ION 2017 Pacific PNT Meeting
May 1 - 4, 2017
Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa
Honolulu, Hawaii
Pages: 526 - 538
Cite this article: Skone, S., Spanswick, E., Mushini, S., Najmafshar, Maryam, "GNSS-Based Auroral Space Weather Products," Proceedings of the ION 2017 Pacific PNT Meeting, Honolulu, Hawaii, May 2017, pp. 526-538.
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